And giving is what he and a longtime service partner did on Friday afternoon.
The spirits were high at the seventh annual “Bicycle Giveaway” by Campus Crest Communities, owner of The Grove, a student apartment complex near University of West Georgia in Carrollton. A total of 150 bikes were given to needy families in Carroll County.
The Westside church on Aycock Street in Carrollton has been the site of the yearly event since 2006, with Campus Crest supplying the bikes.
“We’ve been giving away 150 bikes every year for seven years — that’s 1,050 kids on Carrollton streets who are smiling today,” Pastor Walter Kight said.
Parents filled out applications and the awards were based on need and verified income. Applicants were found at various locations, including the state employment office and Georgia Department of Family and Children Services. Kight said applicants don’t have to be church members and no restrictions are made for race, religion or nationality.
Several employees from The Grove in Carrollton and community volunteers helped distribute the Christmas bikes to the waiting family members.
“We asked questions about who you are, where you are, when you last worked and how many children are in your family,” Kight said. “We do the best we can to put the bikes where they are really needed.”
After the pastor and co-founder of Campus Crest Michael Hartnett spoke in the church’s sanctuary, numbers were called and family representatives walked to the parking lot in groups of 10 to receive the early Christmas gifts for their children.
The company also sponsors an annual “Gobbler Giveaway” at Westside Full Gospel Baptist Church each year before Thanksgiving.
In addition, it holds similar turkey and bike giveaway projects in Milledgeville, Ga., Dillon, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C.
Hartnett was presented a key to the city by City Councilman Gerald Byrd after Byrd read a proclamation from the office of the mayor commending Hartnett and Campus Crest on their service.
“I’m speechless,” Hartnett said after he was given the golden key. “I’ve never received anything like this — it’s an unbelievable honor. But I don’t do it for the keys. I do it for the kids.”
Kight and Hartnett met seven years ago when Hartnett was planning to build the apartment complex and attended a meeting with Kight.
“We were just coming here to build some apartments and start another branch of our business,” Hartnett said. “And he asked me what else was I going to do.”
Campus Crest Communities Inc., based in Charlotte, N.C., is a leading developer, builder, owner and manager of high-quality student housing under The Grove brand.
Rollins and Harnett were classmates at Duke University business school and have worked together over the past 24 years. They founded the Campus Crest Communities in 2004.
Campus Crest owns interests in 33 student housing properties, containing approximately 6,324 apartment units and 17,064 beds. The Carrollton apartments were built in 2006 on Lovvorn Road and have 489 beds.
New Campus Crest apartments are designed to replace many of the old student housing buildings that date back to the baby boomer era in the 1950s. These older rooms usually had shared bathrooms and bedrooms and cafeteria-style dining halls. Nowadays, with three in four students living off campus, the Campus Crest apartments feature kitchens, private bathrooms, student lounges and other amenities.
Westside Baptist Church was founded in July 1969. Kight became the pastor of the church in 1994 after being ordained the previous year. In 2000, Kight was ordained as the overseer of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. Westside then became Westside Full Gospel Baptist Church, where Kight continues to serve as pastor.
“We hope that the children will grow up and learn one day that the true gift is giving the bikes, not receiving them,” Kight said.